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Penicillium is a genus of mold-forming fungi that grow on stored feed , growing plants, crops and damp indoor spaces. Some produce antibiotics, some can be opportunistic pathogens, and some produce mycotoxins, including patulin. 

P. purpurogenum is a common indoor contaminant associated with water intrusion. It produces the chemotherapeutic agent Rubratoxins.

Penicillium brevicompactum and roqueforti produce mycophenolic acid. Used in transplant patients to suppress rejection of transplanted organs, particularly kidneys.

Penicillium chrysogenum, Penicillium notatum: cultures of these fungi produce penicillin and Citrinin. 

Penicillium citreo-viride produces the neurotoxin citreoviridin which causes paralysis, convulsions and death in humans eating contaminated yellow rice. Resembles beriberi, thought originally to be due to thiamin deficiency.

Penicillium citrinum produces ochratoxin and citrinin. Causes growth retardation, hepatic necrosis and nephropathy.

Penicillium claviforme, Penicillium cyclopium, Penicillium divergens, Penicillium equinum, Penicillium expansum, Penicillium griseofulvum, Penicillium lapidosum, Penicillium leucopus, Penicilliummelinii, Penicillium novae-zeelandiae, Penicillium patulum (syn. Penicillium urticae) produce the mycotoxin Patulin. Patulin causes cell death, immune suppression and DNA damage both in vivo and in vitro.

Penicillium crustosum produces tremorgens which cause incoordination and recumbency and was thought at one time to cause ryegrass staggers.

Penicillium cyclopium, Penicillium jantinellum, Penicillium nigricans, Penicillium palitans, Penicillium piscarum, Penicillium puberulum are soil fungi and produce tremorgens which cause tremor, ataxia and muscular rigidity in animals grazing infested pasture. The fungi were once thought to be involved in causing ryegrass staggers.

Penicillium estinogenum produces tremorgens and causes incoordination and recumbency.

Penicillium islandicum causes hepatic necrosis and has carcinogenic properties.

Penicillium purpurogenum produces rubratoxin and causes anemia and widespread hemorrhages in chickens.

Penicillium roqueforti grows on stored grain and ensilage. It is suspected of causing bovine abortion and retained placenta via an unidentified toxin. Produces roquefortine which causes tetanic convulsions in dogs. It is also one of the sources of mycophenolic acid.

Penicillium rubrum produces rubratoxin which causes abdominal pain, jaundice, convulsions.

Penicillium simplicissimus fungus which produces tremorgens, causing incoordination and recumbency.

Penicillium viridicatum grows on stored grain and produces ochratoxin which causes nephrosis mostly in pigs. It also produces citrinin and viomellin.

The U.S. EPA ERMI test: The Penicillium species in the ERMI test include brevicompactum, corylophilum, crustosum, purpurogenum, spinulosum and variable because of their prevalence in damp indoor spaces.


Human Illness and Penicillium

These fungi are commonly found in soil, food, cellulose, grains, paint, carpet, wallpaper, interior fiberglass duct insulation and decaying vegetation. Penicillium may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, asthma, and allergic alveolitis in susceptible individuals. 

The genus Penicillium has several species, as listed above, and are found in damp indoor spaces and are part of the ERMI test.

P. mameffei fungi has been isolated from patients with keratitis, ear infections, pneumonia, endocarditis, peritonitis and urinary tract infections. 

Penicillium infections are most commonly exhibited in immunosuppressed individuals and can also occur in individuals on corticosteroids. The fungus is abundant in Southeast Asia and typically infects patients with AIDS in this area. 

Infection is acquired via inhalation and initially results in a pulmonary infection and then spreads to other areas of the body (lymphatic system, liver, spleen and bones) and is often fatal. An indication of infection is the appearance of papules that resemble acne on the face, trunk and extremities. 

Penicillium spp. has the ability to produce mycotoxins. These include tremorgens, neurotoxins, Ochratoxin A (nephrotoxin and carcinogen) rubratoxins and mycophenolic acid, verrucosidin (neurotoxin) and penicillic acid (nephrotoxic and hepatotoxic). 
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